21 Jan 2024

2024 Dig Dates

We will be returning to Forty Hall twice this year, to investigate two separate but possibly related features of the Tudor palace of Elsyng.

Tudor wall
2006 test pit revealing a mystery wall

The first dig will be a fairly small scale investigation in May, into a mysterious section of wall we first encountered in 2006, during test-pitting in the lime tree avenue ahead of proposed tree planting.

Owing to time constraints we were never able to to fully investigate the feature and so know very little about it or what part of the palace it belongs to. Due to its presence a tree was never planted in the proposed space, however in the intervening years a lime tree has set itself in the gap, and if left unchecked its root system could pose a direct threat to the archaeology.

We aim to open a small trench to both fully investigate the wall and evaluate its state of preservation. The dig will run over a long weekend, either from May 4th - 6th or if the weather is bad, from May 25th - 27th.

wall corner
Corner of possible octagonal pillar emerges at the last second of 2023 dig

The wall is something of a mystery but is quite nearby to the wall and octagonal turret we discovered last summer which featured on BBC2's Digging For Britain.

Close to the octagonal turret featured in the programme, after the cameras stopped rolling we discovered a very deep rubble-filled feature which we think may be a palace cellar. At the very end of the dig towards to bottom of the rubble we uncovered the corner of an in-situ brick feature. The angle of the corner measures almost exactly 135 degrees, and so we strongly suspect it is another octagonal feature - in this case possibly the remains of an octagonal pillar that once supported the cellar ceiling.

This will be the primary target of our 2024 summer dig, which will run for two weeks from July 7th - 21st with a public open day on the 13th. We aim to open a much larger trench here in order to safely reach the bottom of the cellar and fully reveal the possibly octagonal feature. If the brick feature is an in-situ pillar, it would also indicate the possibly of an intact cellar floor waiting to be discovered.

As ever, our digs are open to all members of the Society over the age of 16; no experience is necessary.

If you have not yet renewed your subscription or are not a member of the Society and would like to join, please do so as soon as possible - see enfarchsoc.org/join or direct any queries to the membership secretary at membership

There is also the possibility of a dig on a Roman site later in the year, but this is still in early negotiation.

Members will be kept up to date on this and further details of the Forty Hall digs on the usual mailing list.


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